California Moves Toward Public Access for Self-Driving Cars

  • VOA News

    October 12, 2017 08:21

    California regulators took an important step Wednesday to clear the road for everyday people to get self-driving cars.

    The state's Department of Motor Vehicles published proposed rules that would govern the technology within California, where for several years manufacturers have been testing hundreds of prototypes on roads.

    That testing requires a trained safety driver behind the wheel, just in case the onboard computers and sensors fail. Though companies are not ready to unleash the technology for regular drivers -- most say it remains a few years away -- the state expects to have a final regulatory framework in place by June.

    Google self-driving Lexus cars are seen at a Google event outside the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California on May 13, 2014 (file photo). /AP

    That framework would let companies begin testing prototypes with neither steering wheels nor pedals -- and indeed nobody at all inside. The public is unlikely to get that advanced version of the technology until several years after the deployment of cars that look and feel more like traditional, human-controlled vehicles.

    Consumers probably won't be able to walk into a dealership and buy a fully driverless vehicle next year. Major automakers like Mercedes, BMW, Ford, Nissan and Volvo have all said it will be closer to 2020 before those vehicles are available, and even then, they could be confined to ride-hailing fleets and other shared applications.

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